Why Enter Photography Contests?
“The Earth is Art, The Photographer is only a Witness ”
~ Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Earth from Above
Mark Boardman is one of the judges who will be selecting the winners of Weather Photographer of the Year 2020 and has offered his insights on entering photography contests. He is the owner of StormHour Ltd who promote weather photographers, storm chasers and meteorologists.
Mark has been running a weekly weather photography competition, Photo of the Week contest, in association with RMetS since the summer of 2016 and has judged over 200 competitions so far and counting. He is also a keen weather photographer and was shortlisted in the 2016 competition and appeared in the 2017 calendar for his image "Hail Shower over Jodrell Bank".
His hashtag #StormHour is closely monitored by many people and businesses and is an excellent way to get your work out there.
In the world of photography, the path to success and exposure can seem daunting with such a vast quantity of photos posted every moment of every waking hour (There are over 100 million image and video uploads to Instagram each day. 100. Million.)
Photography competitions allow you to bypass the ‘noise’ out there and get your work seen. Success is never guaranteed and there can only be one 1st place, but the publicity and visibility afforded by competitions is well worth the effort.
One of the biggest benefits of entering photography competitions is exposure to both the panel of influential judges and to the public at large.
“A photographer is like a cod, which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.”
~ George Bernard Shaw
Don’t be too cautious with your work, many photographers are by nature perfectionists but often it is the composition and context that is the over-riding factor rather than perfecting the technical detail. Look to change your vantage point, examine potential leading lines and juxtapositions. Let your photograph tell a story, so the viewer is guided through it.
As photography is so subjective each member of the judging panel will be basing their decisions on their own subjective experiences. You may have one judge who has an affinity to leading lines that guide you through the photograph, another may prefer wide open vistas and spectacular landscapes, others may be looking for the raw power of nature and will not be getting too concerned about the technical excellence of the photograph.
One tip I would give is that you try to make your image compelling, if it grabs attention immediately and makes a judge want to look again and examine the detail then you are part way there! I would take time to describe your photo, giving as much detail as possible to help tell the story of the image. It’s not necessarily all about the picture, it’s about the story.
Remember that judges are looking at images on screens of different size and resolution, so I tend to look for a more minimalist feel. But that’s just me. Subjective.
Enjoy the process of taking photographs and entering them into competitions. Don’t worry too much about what you imagine the judges will like or dislike, just have fun and develop your own creative self-assessment. Go with your heart!
“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”
~ Diane Arbus
If you don’t win, don’t worry, you will gain confidence in showing your images to a wider viewing public and your images will have gained more exposure with an audience who most likely would have never seen it.
Competitions have an added benefit of encouraging engagement and networking with other photographers, I see this every week with our weekly photo competition and the associated Best of the Rest, a large community come together to offer congratulations and support.
“A photograph can be an instant of life captured for eternity that will never cease looking back at you.”
~ Brigitte Bardot
Mark Boardman - StormHour Ltd
You can find out more about Mark’s work on his website or on his social media pages below.